Algal blooms: emerging problem for health and sustainable use of surface waters

Project: Research

Project Details


ALGAL BLOOMS, mass developments of algae and cyanobacteria floatting at the surface of waterbodies, have become a recurrent and increasingly important phenomenon in freshwaters worldwide over the last decades. These blooms, in particular those dominated by cyanobacteria, represent major potential hazards for human and animal health, and interfere in various negative ways with the use of surface waters (e.g. drinking water extraction, recreation, irrigation, fisheries). While in other European countries, initiatives have been taken to monitor algal blooms in surface waters, there is a striking lack of knowledge of incidence and nature of algal blooms in Belgium. We have nevertheless recently accumulated evidence suggesting that water blooms, particularly by toxic cyanobacteria, may be a common phenomenon.
This two-year project aims at
1) DOCUMENTING the extent, nature (genotypic diversity, toxins) and phenology of nuisance blooms in Belgium;
2) contributing to the development of PREDICTIVE MODELS based on the monitoring of ecological conditions leading to bloom formation;
3) developping TOOLS (sampling protocols, models and molecular markers) required for a country-wide MONITORING network to permit rapid detection and identification of algal blooms.
Building on the specific expertise of three Belgian laboratories, we will deliver SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE that is critical to support long-term predictions and help policy-makers to make decisions and guidelines for recreational and drinking waters.
The project will create a national NETWORK and a DATABASE on blooms in freshwaters which will be useful to integrate Belgium in the EC research activities (networks and projects) and international surveys. Moreover, the knowledge and tools developed will form a necessary scientific basis to develop a monitoring of freshwater quality (including biological parameters like algal blooms) for the implementation of the EC WATER FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE, in Flanders and Wallonia.
Effective start/end date1/04/0331/10/06


  • Modelling
  • Health of water ecosystem
  • Water Management
  • Algal blooms
  • Cyanobacteria


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